Robert Kranz, the product editor for Automotive News, recently asked, “What’s wrong with the Challenger?” That question was prompted by his concerns that Chrysler isn’t selling enough of them for his likes nor fast enough.

True that the Dodge Challenger got a slight re-design for 2011 which included two new engine designs (the monster 6.4L 392 and the 3.6L Pentastar V6), some tweaks to its suspension, and a few new features both inside and out.

It is also true that the sales for the Dodge Challenger, form January through May, ring in at 16,777 cars sold. While in stark contrast, the Chevrolet Camaro sold 40,275 cars and the Ford Mustang sold 30,206 cars. But we are in a down economy that no one seems certain how to get it back on track. Unemployment figures are high and stagnant. Oil and gas prices are higher than normal, food costs are going higher, not to mention that U.S. troops are engaged in no less than four wars at the moment. Is this really the time to be wondering why car sales might be up or down? It seems a bit obvious, even to a casual observer.

Mr. Kranz also wondered if the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang coming optioned with a convertible while the Dodge Challenger does not might be the reason for less sales. Nonsense.

Sure, a convertible Dodge Challenger will spark some sales interest with consumers — but on the lower end. That is to say that most Chevrolet Camaros and Ford Mustang convertibles that you see out there are on the less optioned, cheaper, 6-cylinder models — not the top of the line vehicles. The Dodge Challenger screams “Muscle.” Buyers who flock to the Dodge Challenger are more interested in muscle than a soft top. That’s not to say that no one wants a convertible Dodge Challenger, we do. Just that we also want it to pack a punch and if we had to choose between the two, the rag top would lose out.

Convertible or not, Chrysler is not set up like GM or Ford. I was once told by a top level Chrysler executive that Chrysler could only produce a limited number of Challengers per year because the manufacturing line is also shared among other vehicle lines. Notwithstanding that, Chrysler has always been the lowest volume of the Big 3. It’s been that way almost from the start. Chrysler cars are often higher quality and cost more than the higher volume units from GM and Ford. It almost seems like a textbook example of the business proposition — Price vs. Volume.

I’d call the current Chrysler sales numbers nothing short of a miracle happening before your eyes. Out of bankruptcy, government money repaid in full, fresh and exciting new models, and now with the 2011 392 Dodge Challenger, Chrysler holds claim to having the fastest and most powerful of the pony cars. But better than that and certainly more sobering is the fact that the United Auto Workers union plans to strike against GM and Ford in the coming months, whereas Chrysler remains safe with its negotiated no-strike contract. It seems like a sales slump is on the horizon for both GM and Ford, while Chrysler’s sales will only continue to grow.

So, what is wrong with the Challenger you ask? — Absolutely nothing.

Source: Automotive News

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